The Bible teaches that there are times when we have no choice but to avoid associations with groups, ministries, and even individuals.
Paul tells us to “mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.“ (Romans 16:17)
And by “marking”, the Bible is not speaking of some gentle, polite, “agree-to-disagree” arrangement.
Taking a biblical position against error is a hard thing to do. Especially in an age where so few Christians are willing to do it.
A Hard, But Necessary, Thing
Marking them, means to make a clear declaration to other believers that there is a danger to be avoided. That there is a specific error that has crept in. And that we should warn others of that danger.
We are also to avoid the individual or group that is spreading the dangerous teaching within the body. This is so that we do not get drawn into their error. Nor do we place those in danger whom the Lord has given us to protect and guide.
Which, by the way, does not fit well into the Evangelical playbook.
Correcting the Problem
Of course, it is best if we can avoid all this by privately talking with the individual to help him see his error; so that he would repent and change his teaching.
If the error is taught in public, on the internet, in a book, or some other form of mass communication, the private method is not really possible. Unless we had some way to personally contact the individual or organization; then we might try that route.
But, in my experience, this is somewhat pointless. Because, when a teacher publishes his thoughts abroad, he has already given it some forethought; which is often the result of a position already well established; as opposed to a mistake made in the moment.
And, when an email or letter is sent to criticize a pastor or teacher, it often becomes just one in a pile that is ignored or thrown out by a gate-keeper in an organization. Who will just regard the letter as a personal attack against a respected and beloved leader.
The Lord’s First Desire
But, let’s back up for a moment.
I don’t think that the Lord’s first desire for us is to engage in a widespread search to isolate ourselves from all with whom we disagree. Especially if there is no clear biblical reason.
His desire is that we personally walk by faith in obedience to His Spirit.
That is the first priority.
Then, in fellowship with Christ, He is able to minister to others by His indwelling ministry through us. Which is done by making ourselves available to the world around us.
A Bold Solution
But, let me say that most Evangelicals have little, if any, true understanding of what this means. And the same could be said of Fundamentalists; who generally tend to view Separation for sin as a physical thing.
As a physical act of non-participation and non-association with some person or organization.
In a nutshell, I think what the Lord truly wants is for us is to take Him and His truth wherever we go. To boldly go out into the highways and byways.
Not to compromise. Not to agree with error. And Not to join with error.
Even when something “good” is being accomplished in the process.
We are Not “to do something wrong in order to get an opportunity to do something right.” Which is to paraphrase an old saying by Dr. Bob Jones, Sr..
Make Up Your Mind
This means that we must be very open and transparent about our beliefs. And not try to live some separate life from our faith.
But this is the problem with most Christians today. Who try to hide what they are and what they believe so that it doesn’t affect their jobs or their social lives or even their position in the church.
This doesn’t mean we have to tell everyone we see about Christ. Or hand out Bible tracts to everyone we encounter. Or do some outward demonstration to show everyone what we believe.
And we all know people like that. Who, in their sincerity do that with everyone. Who become a kind of Christian scarecrow; making themselves a “fool for Christ”. By their own hand, rather than by the Lord’s doing.
The Lord wants us to make up our minds about who we really are. And to stand fast on the truth.
So that we speak the truth even within our churches. Where we might be told, even by other Christians, that we should just blend in and go with the flow and to support whatever the leaders say.
A Candle Clearly Seen
Believers must learn to resist the spirit of error.
To stop being quiet about the trends and movements that are creeping into the church. To question the sources of teaching — the books, the organizations, the authors, and the evangelists recommended.
Not simply joining up and then remaining silent about biblical or doctrinal error.
Nor to infiltrate a group that is unbiblical; with the intent that we can change it by our continued presence or by our example and good works.
To be Salt and Light we must be clearly seen and identified by those around us. Being unashamedly bold in our proclamation of the gospel and the word of God.
“No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which came in may see the light.” (Luke 11:33)
To Be Continued . . .
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